What Is “Sports Speed”?

As I have mentioned on many occasions, the biggest question that I get from parents is if I can get their son or daughter faster. The answer is a definite “YES”, but I always want to make sure these parents understand that what their probable definition of getting faster is could be quite a bit different than what mine is. The huge majority of people think of getting faster as running a faster 40 yard dash or any short distance that measures one straight ahead speed. While this is true, it is far from complete.

The only sport that I know where straight ahead linear speed is of utmost importance is track and field, but the majority of my clients come to me to improve their speed in sports such as baseball, softball,  football, basketball, and soccer. These sports do have a linear speed component to them, but we all know that these sports are much more defined as being multi-directional in nature. Accelerating in short distances, stopping and re-accelerating, changing directions, cutting, shuffling, backpedaling are the movements that take place in all of these sports much more often than any longer linear speed activity. These are the activities that I define as “sports speed”. All sport athletes who are motivated to “get faster” need to think in terms of working on this type of speed much more often than just doing sprints in a straight line.

What are the factors involved in developing this type of sports speed?

– body movement efficiency and coordination (everything from the stance of an athlete to the coordination of movement skills)

– deceleration and change of direction mechanics (being able to stop the body after moving at high speeds and applying force in a different direction)

– movement strength and explosiveness (proper technique of movement skills done at high velocities powerfully)

– high intensity conditioning (being able to do many repetitions of these movements in game like settings without performance declining)

These are the factors that need to be focused upon in any athletes speed training regimen. Straight ahead speed is still important as that will always be a part of the “getting faster” equation, but it is only one component of many speed skills that are required to be an athlete that is working to be “sports speed” fast!

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